Rated R: Ghosts are Unhappy for a Reason
East of Chula Vista
by Samantha Henderson
I rock in the bentwood chair on the porch and wait. I know about the bodies in the arroyo, in the mesquite ash between the charred trunks of the live oaks. The grass beneath the mesquite had grown long in winter rains and was shriveled dry by the summer heat. Fire had crisped it quickly, and the oaks were dense hard wood, old fuels, burning long and hot and all-consuming.
Eventually they all come to me like homing pigeons, those unlucky ones who die in the unforgiving desert, short water or caught out at night with no fire and not enough of them to huddle together to keep warm, not thinking how cold the badlands get in the middle of the night with nothing to keep in the day’s heat. They come to me at dusk, hollow-eyed and bewildered to my front yard, all of them. They stand, wavering in the moonlight, waiting for me to let them go.
About the Author
Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California by way of England, South Africa, Illinois and Oregon. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit and Weird Tales, and reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction, Steampunk Revolutions and the Mammoth Book of Steampunk, as well as being podcast in Podcastle, Escape Pod, and The Drabblecast. She’s the author of the Forgotten Realms novels Heaven’s Bones and Dawnbringer, and is currently working on a novel based on her short story “Cinderella Suicide.“
About the Narrator
Ben Phillips is a programmer and musician living in New Orleans. He was a chief editor of Pseudopod from 2006-2010.